Monday, November 19, 2018

Ever Growing

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers
and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith
is growing more and more, and the love every
one of you has for each other is increasing.”
—2 Thessalonians 1:3

In small group Bible studies within larger church gatherings, we often talk a great deal about spiritual growth. We commend a daily period of Bible reading and prayer to every believer. We assert that spending time listening to God through His written Word and talking to Him in prayer will result in a steady movement forward of spiritual formation and growth. And, that assertion is absolutely true.

The whole idea of walking along the pathway of life with Jesus means that we will more and more become like Him. We will think like Him. We will act like Him. We will recognize the things He recognizes. We will applaud the things He applauds. We will gently and tenderly condemn the things that He condemns.

Spiritual growth that lasts is always a steady forward motion. A field of verdant grass, when viewed each day, does not appear to grow. Yet that same field, when looked at with some time between viewings, startles us with how much taller the grass has become. Similarly, in our lives as believers, our faith walk will display almost-too-hard-to-see daily growth. But, when viewed over time, people will see us becoming more and more like the One who has saved us by the shedding of His precious blood.

The Apostle Paul characterized such growth this way, as recorded in 2 Thessalonians 1:3:

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

Paul acknowledges that when he looks at the lives of these new believers, he sees definite spiritual growth. And, Paul thanks God for that revelation. For to see such growth in our fellow believers truly produces joy.

This new day, let’s remember to spend time in God’s written Word and in prayer. Let’s encourage each other that we might grow together in our faith. And, let’s remain grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who helps us in promoting our steady, forward spiritual growth.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Praying for Those We Love

 

[Photo of the Apostle Paul in prayer]


“I [Paul] thank God, whom I serve, as my
forefathers did, with a clear conscience,
as night and day I constantly remember
you [Timothy] in my prayers.”
—2 Timothy 1:3

Prayer is a fundamental, cohesive, and powerful component of our relationship with God. Almost anything we intend to do for the Kingdom of God must begin with sincere, earnest, and fervent prayer.

In our relationships with the people in our lives whom we love, nothing is as important as our taking time to pray for these dear ones. We show the sincerity and depth of our love for them when we purposefully pray for these special people in our lives.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the young man he called his “son in the faith.” Timothy was someone very special to Paul. Notice what Paul declares, as found in 2 Timothy 1:3:

I [Paul] thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you [Timothy] in my prayers.

This is a prayer that we all can pray each day for those who matter greatly in our lives. We can pray for our spouses, our children, our extended family members, our close friends, our fellow believers in our churches, and anyone else whom God graciously brings to our minds. Prayer represents the most powerful force we have at our disposal. It truly is a fundamental, cohesive, and powerful component of our relationship with God.

This day, let’s commit ourselves to become people of prayer. Let’s begin, right now, by praying for someone for whom we feel moved by God to pray. And, let’s not stop there. Let’s keep on praying for each one God brings to our minds.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

We Are More Than Conquerors

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For those who are led by the Spirit
of God are the children of God.”
—Romans 8:14

When the world around us seems in chaos, where do we go? When our fondest wishes, hopes, and dreams disappear in a puff of smoke, what do we do next? When those we counted on the most seem to have vanished, to whom do we turn?

From time to time, these kinds of questions seem to plague those who follow Christ. Nothing I could possibly write would have more impact than these words from the Apostle Paul found in Romans 8:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the midst of the chaos and confusion that sometimes envelopes our lives, may God, through His Holy Spirit, give us hearts filled with His love, joy, and peace this very day. May we come to understand and fully accept that in and through the Lord Jesus Christ we are, indeed, more than conquerors. No matter what may assail us in our lives, God will always give us the victory through out Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Triumphal Procession

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Thanks be to God, who always leads
us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
—2 Corinthians 2:14

As a small boy, I would eagerly look forward to the Memorial Day Parade in my hometown—except for the clowns. I didn’t like the clowns. They seemed quite scary to me: their painted faces, their quick movements, their bobbing and weaving in and out of the crowd gathered to watch the parade. Scary! Really Scary!

In contrast with the clowns, I did very much like the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who marched through the street. My dad, a former Marine, always pointed out to me how the Marines looked the best in their crisp uniforms, straight lines, and precisely marching steps. He also opined that, quite understandably, the sailors didn’t march very well because they were used to walking on the ever-rolling deck of a ship.

I also very much enjoyed seeing the fire apparatus, especially the aerial ladder truck. And, I enjoyed the marching bands, even when the thudding drums caused my chest to compress with the concussive force of their rhythmic beating.

Whether we realize it or not, we Christians are “parade people.” We are part of a great triumphal procession that rivals any Memorial Day or other celebratory parade. Notice what the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:14:

Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

Today, as we “march” out into the world, let’s spread the sweet fragrance of Christ everywhere we go. Let’s allow our humble, careful, and loving witness to God’s love and grace become a perfume that draws a needy world irresistibly into His grace. And, let’s march onward triumphantly.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Thirsty for the Spirit

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground; I will
pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.”
—Isaiah 44:3

When you’re thirsty, really thirsty, nothing quenches that thirst quite like a drink of cool, clear spring water. As a small boy growing up in the inland valleys of central northwestern Pennsylvania, we were blessed to have a number of natural springs available to us. One of those springs existed on the outskirts of the city, coming off a hill that led onto a road named “Interstate Parkway.”

In the summertime, my dad would take several clear gallon glass jugs, load them into the trunk of our car, and with me in the shotgun seat, drive out to that spring and fill those bottles with the clearest, coldest, most refreshing water that I had ever tasted. The bottled water that we have in such abundance today was nearly unheard of in those days. So, it was a real treat to be able to open the refrigerator and fill a glass or cup from one of those gallon jugs of natural spring water.

The Holy Spirit is like that refreshing spring water. He comes into our lives when we acknowledge that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Thereafter, the Spirit provides us with a constant flow of fresh, clear, cool spiritual water that revives our spirits and lifts our souls.

The Prophet Isaiah had lived long enough on the edge of the desert to know how important a spring of living water was to a land that was parched by the heat of the sun. That’s why Isaiah, speaking the words of God, recorded these statements found in Isaiah 44:3:

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

God refreshes the spirits of His dearly loved children by pouring the Holy Spirit into their lives. That’s the lesson for today. We need to recognize how fortunate we are to have such a refreshment made available to us by the God who loves us with His everlasting love.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, November 12, 2018

With the Voice of Thunder

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he
does great things beyond our understanding.”
—Job 37:5

Some people and most pets do not like thunder and lightning. I am one who delights in an electrical storm.

As a small boy, I used to sit on the open front porch of our modest home in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The porch faced in a southeasterly direction. As a summer thunderstorm moved over the hills, blown by a southeasterly wind, I can remember “feeling” the storm in the air before I heard the first peal of thunder, or saw the first flash of lightning. The air would begin to feel very heavy and moist. A sweet scent would permeate the air. I later learned that scent came from ozone produced by the distant electrical activity of the storm.

Within minutes of that sense that a storm was coming, I would see a lightning flash. I would count to myself, “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…” BOOM! A clap of thunder would echo across the inland valley. Then, another flash would light the horizon. Another peal of thunder would follow. The storm was getting closer.

Next, the first few drops of rain would start to fall. The odor of ozone in the air would be replaced by a fresh dew-like smell of cleansing water. The pace of the rainfall would quicken. Suddenly, the heavens would open and the storm would unleash its fury. I loved it! I loved every minute of it! I loved the cool, moist breeze that would wash over me on that front porch. I loved the flashes of lightning and staccato peals of thunder. Each storm possessed immense power. I felt mesmerized by that display of power.

The Patriarch Job’s “friend” Elihu was very familiar with the storms that would move across the desert. He understood the power of such a storm. He welcomed the cleansing of the dust and grit that the storm would bring. No wonder that Elihu likened the movement of God to the power of a storm. Notice what Elihu said, as recorded in Job 37:5:

God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.

Just as the power of a storm captures the imagination of weather scientists and small boys, so does the movement of God capture the imagination in the lives of His followers. God’s power is unfathomable. His grace is overwhelming. His love is without measure. His peace is all pervasive.

As we begin a new day, let’s recognize the enormous power of our Holy God. He is the Lord of our lives. He is our Father. He is our Redeemer. He is our everything. And, how blessed we are that we belong to Him and that His power is ours.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, November 9, 2018

What a Memory

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The memory of the righteous
will be a blessing, but the
name of the wicked will rot.”
—Proverbs 10:7

Do you have some favorite memories? Maybe you remember some critically important incident in your life. Perhaps you remember a vacation your family took when you were a child. You might remember the birth of a child. You could also remember the death of a loved one. You might think about the time your boss complimented you in front of your peers. You might remember the very day and hour when you recognized the gift God had given you in salvation through His Son, Jesus.

Memories play an important role in our lives. I’ve found, as I have reached old age, that certain memories tend to flood back into my mind at the most unusual and unexpected times.

My parents have both gone home to be with the Lord more than thirty years ago. Even so, at the most unpredictable times, I will suddenly be overwhelmed with a strong sense of grief and loss. Tears will flood my eyes. I will feel a deep sadness and longing in the core of my being. I will feel once again the way I felt when I learned that each of my parents had gone home to heaven.

Long ago, I recognized that when we lose someone we love dearly, the pain of loss never really goes away. In fact, that pain is not supposed to go away. We may adjust so that the pain is not as sharp nor as fresh. But, from time to time, the pain of loss will reassert itself in a surprising way.

This is also true for memories of unusually pleasant experiences. Certain events in our lives that brought us great joy, or excitement, or a strong sense of well-being will also rise to the surface and re-assert those feelings once again.

Yes, memories do play a very important role in our lives. King Solomon recognized this when he wrote these words found in Proverbs 10:7:

The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot.

Solomon liked to make comparisons. Here he balances against each other the memories held by those God has made righteous and the names of the wicked.

If you think about that, certainly the names of individuals who we have learned were evil have continued to be held in great disdain. The name “Adolf Hitler” evokes a visceral reaction from anyone who has studied the atrocities he ordered during World War II.

The absolute and utter horror of the extermination of over six million Jews will be long remembered by generations to come. It’s more than a little sad that today some use the name, “Adolf Hitler,” as a description for anyone whose political philosophy or policies they don’t like. Hitler needs to remain the name of one specific person only—the man who brought about such unspeakable horror that the world must never, ever forget what terrible things he did. Such foolish use of this terrible name says far more about the people who use the name in this way than it does about the people being labeled with this despicable name.

Let’s remember this day those times in our lives when we had a strong sense of Christ’s Presence. Let’s recall those instances when God seemed very close and extended His mercy, grace, and love in some very special way.

In fact, if we look daily for His hand, we will see Him at work in our lives. These memories will become precious to us. And, they will mean all the more as we grow older.

Memories play an important role in our lives. Let’s go about making some new and valuable memories this very day.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.